Health System

Putting healthcare workers' heart health first during the pandemic

Background

The pandemic jolted and disrupted organizations and individuals across the world, but healthcare workers have been especially hard hit. Over the past two years — as they cared for the millions sickened and hospitalized with COVID-19 — healthcare workers have faced high rates of not only coronavirus infection and death, but also anxiety, stress, and sleep deprivation.1 

WIth the long-term stress of COVID weighing heavily on healthcare workers, their heart health could be suffering some heavy consequences. Anxiety disorders, chronic stress (i.e., stress that is constant and sustained over time), and chronic sleep deprivation can all lead to high blood pressure, which can increase risk for heart attack and stroke.2,3,4

Solution

Going into the pandemic, a health system in the Southeast with more than 30,000 employees had a tool in place to help their staff protect and even improve their heart health.

In 2019, to reduce their claims costs related to hypertension — one of their top drivers of healthcare spend — the health system implemented the Hello Heart solution. 

Hello Heart is the only digital therapeutics company to focus exclusively on heart health. Built by a team of clinicians, data scientists, and consumer software experts, Hello Heart’s coaching app provides wellness tips that have been clinically shown in a peer-reviewed study published in a top-tier medical journal to lower blood pressure.5 Each participant receives a wireless blood pressure monitor and real-time personalized digital coaching. Hello Heart's artificial intelligence and algorithms drive an individualized, unique experience for each person based on gender, comorbidities, age, geography, and user persona.

Key Results During the Pandemic

300%

increase in enrollment7

75%

engagement rate on average7

79%

of those starting in stage 2 hypertension reduced their heart risk using the app 7,8,9,10

20

mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure for participants starting in stage 2 hypertension using the app 7,8,9

Approach

At the start of the pandemic, Hello Heart and the health system shifted the program’s enrollment strategy – from a focus on on-site events to multimodal, multimessage campaigns to maximise enrollment among the target population. The campaigns relied heavily on postcards sent to homes, limiting distractions during work hours and allowing both staff and eligible spouses to receive program information. Despite the pandemic and this shift in strategy, the program grew by 300%, with over 2,500 members enrolling since 2020.7

Hello Heart’s private and personal approach to digital coaching also kept users engaged throughout the pandemic. On average, 75% of enrollees engaged with the app (e.g. tracking their blood pressure, weight, and/or steps; reading insights) each quarter.7

Results

Regardless of the additional stress of the pandemic, with Hello Heart, the health system’s users were able to lower their blood pressure. Using the personalized coaching app’s wellness tips focused on exercise, nutrition, and other lifestyle factors, 79% of participants starting in stage 2 hypertension reduced their blood pressure and lowered heart risk.7,8,9 On average, they dropped their systolic bloody pressure by 20mmHg.7,8

Risk Reduction: One study found that even a 10mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure reduced the risk of major cardiovascular disease events by 20%, coronary heart disease by 17%, stroke by 27%, heart failure by 28%, and all-cause mortality by 13%.11

Beyond these clinical outcomes during the pandemic, the health system has potentially avoided significant medical costs since implementing Hello Heart. Validation Institute recently found in an analysis that the Hello Heart program delivered a $1,865 per participant reduction inyear 1 total medical claims.12

$1,865
Estimated reduction in year
1 total medical claims costs
per participant9

1 Gupta N, Dhamija S, Patil J, Chaudhari B. Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare workers. Ind Psychiatry J. 2021;30(Suppl 1):S282-S284. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8611576/. Accessed April 21, 2022.

2  Stress and Heart Health. American Heart Association Web site. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/stress-and-heart-health. Published June 21, 2021. Accessed April 21, 2022.

3 Heart Health: Calm your anxious heart. Harvard Health Publishing Web site. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/calm-your-anxious-heart. Published March 14, 2022. Accessed April 21, 2022.

4  How Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Heart. Sleep Foundation Web site. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-deprivation/how-sleep-deprivation-affects-your-heart. Published April 1, 2022. Accessed April 21, 2022.

5 Data is from January 2020 to April 2022.

6 Based on data on file at Hello Heart.

7 Based on a comparison of users’ average blood pressure level in their first week in the program compared to the end of their first year in the program.

8 Stage 2 hypertension is defined as blood pressure equal to or above 140/90.

9 Reduced heart risk is defined as a reduction in blood pressure.

10 Ettehad D, Emdin CA, Kiran A, Anderson SG, Callender T, Emberson J, et al. Blood pressure lowering for prevention of cardiovascular disease and death: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet. 2016;387(10022):957-967. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(15)01225-8. Accessed April 21, 2022.

11 Validation Institute. 2021 Validation Report: Savings. https://validationinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Hello_Heart-Savings-2021-Final.pdf. Published October 2021. Accessed April 21, 2022.

12 Estimated cost avoidance is based on one full year of participation for users enrolled in the program.

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